1. Lotus flowers, part of the iconography of ancient Egypt, appear in the design.

Alexandrian mosaic

Excavating the site of Kom El-Dikka in Alexandria, a team of Egyptian and Polish archaeologists have uncovered a well-preserved Roman mosaic floor in a vast ancient residential area which also features a small theatre, an imperial bathhouse and a group of 22 lecture halls that may have been part of an ancient university.

Grzegorz Majcherek, from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw, said the multi-coloured mosaic floor shows a distinctive Alexandrian style. The composition, featuring a circle inscribed inside a square, was exceptionally popular in Roman Egypt. It includes seven hexagonal panels decorated with images of flowers, framed by a guilloche (interlaced or braided ribbon) pattern, with lotus buds in each of the four spandrels.

2. An ornate mosaic floor for the dining-room was de rigueur for a rich citizen in Roman Alexandria
in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

'Overall, the design of the mosaic, additionally equipped with a transversal field in front decorated with astragals and rosettes, is typical for the triclinia – the most imposing of the dining-rooms in
a Roman house,' Majcherek explains.

It seems that these ornate designs for dining-room floors were in vogue in the affluent city of Roman Alexandria between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Located in the heart of the ancient city of Alexandria, Kom El-Dikka has been excavated by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities for almost six decades.


Lindsay Fulcher